Candidates for Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional District met virtually Friday, Oct. 16 for a debate hosted by Minnesota Public Radio.

Before answering questions posed by the moderator, the two candidates were given an opportunity to tell voters why they think they should be elected to represent the district. Republican candidate Tyler Kistner told moderator Mike Mulcahy and listeners:

Tyler Kistner is the Republican candidate for the Minnesota, District 2, U.S. House seat. File photo.
Tyler Kistner is the Republican candidate for the Minnesota, District 2, U.S. House seat. File photo.

“What we’re seeing and hearing in Washington right now from our Congress is not leadership. Because I know leadership and I’ve served nine years active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps commanding over 500 personnel on four overseas tours, and I’ve led this nation’s finest men and women through the toughest, most chaotic situations. And I’m running to bring my experience and leadership and integrity to change the dysfunction in D.C. I’m an independent thinker not beholden to any particular party and as a Marine veteran I also put the country before party.”

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Angie Craig is seeking a second term in Congress. Kara Hildreth / Contributor
Minnesota U.S. Rep. Angie Craig is seeking a second term in Congress. Kara Hildreth / Contributor

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Rep. Angie Craig is seeking a second term and said of her bid for reelection, “it’s really been the honor of my life to represent the people of the second district over the last two years. I’m a kid who grew up in a mobile home court, I’m a kid of a single mom and I rose to help lead a major manufacturing organization right here in the Twin Cities. And I know how lucky I’ve been. In Congress I’ve been fighting to make sure that health care is more affordable. I’ve worked to expand opportunities to education, especially when it comes to career skills and technical education and support for special education. I’ve brought the voices of family farmers and main street businesses to Washington and, I’ve tried to reform Washington. I’ve made it a priority to work with both parties.”

During the debate portion of the meeting the COVID-19 pandemic and related issues were a major focus. Both candidates agreed that more relief is needed for individuals and small businesses. Craig emphasized that in order for the economy to return to where it was before the pandemic a nation-wide strategy to control COVID is required.

“We’re going to need a federal strategy to suppress the virus. What that means in practice is not what we’ve been seeing from this administration," Craig said. "We need testing, we need contact tracing and we need isolation strategies. That’s not what we’ve seen. We need to make sure that our supply chains are well equipped to get PPE to those who need it time, that testing supplies don’t run short.”

The current administration has put practices in place to combat the virus. For example, according to The COVID Tracking Project an estimated 1 million tests were given across the U.S. on Thursday, Oct. 15. But, according to the Brown School of Public Health the majority of states are not giving enough tests to suppress the spread of COVID, including Minnesota.

Kistner and Craig moved from focusing on COVID to health care more broadly. In November the Supreme Court will hear arguments about the ACA before ruling on whether it is constitutional or not. Craig is in favor of upholding the ACA. Kistner is in favor of creating a new system and says on his campaign website:

“My plan is built on common sense, patient-focused solutions. We will lower healthcare prices by opening health savings accounts, providing transparency in billing so patients know the true cost of care, and opening up state lines so consumers can get affordable and accessible healthcare no matter where they live.

“For too long, Congress has failed to truly reform our healthcare system. We need to enact reforms that cut costs, expands choice, and puts patients first.”

Minnesota’s 2nd Congressional race is unique because it unknown when the election will be held. After Adam Weeks, the Legalize Marijuana Now Party candidate died within 79 days of the election, state law said that the election had to be delayed until Feb. 9.

Craig filed a lawsuit in federal court to allow the election to be held on Tuesday, Nov. 3. She explained during the debate, “we believe quite simply that federal law supersedes state law in this instance and that’s what we’ve asked the district court to opine on. We don’t believe the state can move the election. It’s very clear in federal law that races for U.S. House occur on even-numbered years.”

The federal court ruled that the election would be held Nov. 3.

Kistner is appealing the ruling. He told Mulcahy, “when you look at the law, the federal law states that states have the right to make up their own election laws, so I’m going to let the courts deal with that and we’re going to continue to push for whatever the courts decide and I’m here to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to let every voice in this district be heard.”